By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
February 6, 2013
Four alcohol bills filed recently at the N.C. General Assembly would broaden the parameters for charging drinking drivers with Habitual DWI and hold drivers seeking to have their revoked licenses reinstated to a higher standard of sobriety.
“None of these bills are huge, but they would take a nip here (pardon the pun) and a tuck there to tighten laws surrounding the offense of driving while impaired,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “If they take one drinking driver off the roads or prevent a habitual drunk driver from getting back behind the wheel, they are worth consideration.”
Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) is the lead sponsor on three of the bills, all of which have been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee A. Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) is primary sponsor for a fourth, which is in Subcommittee B.
Her bill, H 31, would amend the Habitual DWI law so that it could be applied to anyone who is driving while impaired and has previously been convicted of the offense of habitual impaired driving. Similarly, Jackson’s bill, H 40, would tighten the law by having it take effect after just two DWIs within 10 years, as opposed to three, which is how the law currently reads.
The other two alcohol bills deal with requirements for those who have had their licenses revoked for alcohol offenses and want to be able to drive again.
H 43, titled Ignition Interlock – All DWI, would require anyone convicted of an impaired driving offense or driving after consuming or anyone who refuses to take a chemical analysis for alcohol to have an Ignition Interlock system installed on any car that he drives before receiving a limited driving privilege. The driver would have to pay $30 to $60 for installation and then monthly monitoring costs for the system. The proposed legislation would also set up a fund to cover installation costs for the indigent. Because of the bill’s expense, it will go from Subcommittee A to the Finance and the Appropriations committees.
The Ignition Interlock, a device whereby a potential driver has to breath into a mouthpiece to prove his sobriety before the car will crank, is already required for anyone who is caught driving with an alcohol concentration level of .15 or over or anyone charged with a second DWI offense in seven years.
H 41, titled 0.00 Alcohol Restriction – All DWI, would restrict those drivers, who could only get behind the wheel with the device, to a 0.00 alcohol concentration. Currently, in some cases, the restriction is as high as 0.04, half the legal limit.
“This bill makes sense,” said Dr. Creech. “If these folks, who have already been caught for DWI, are trying to earn their full driving privileges back, they shouldn’t be drinking at all before blowing into their Ignition Interlock device to start their car.”
He said the CAL will keep an eye on these and other alcohol-related bills as the session progresses, as well as a number of other issues of concern to Christians across the state.